The next frontier

Tinniam V. Ganesh/IBM India
In his classic book “The Innovator’s Dilemma” Prof. Clayton Christensen of Harvard Business School presents several compelling cases of great organizations that fail because they did not address disruptive technologies, occurring in the periphery, with the unique mindset required in managing these disruptions.
 
In the book the author claims that when these disruptive technologies appeared on the horizon there were few takers for these technologies because there were no immediate applications for them. For example, the appearance of 3.5″ disk had no immediate takers in desktop computers but made its way to the laptop.
 
Similarly the mini computer giant Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) ignored the advent of the PC era and focused all its attention on making more powerful mini-computers. This led to the ultimate demise of DEC and several other organizations in this space. This book includes several such examples of organizations that went defunct because disruptive technologies ended up cannibalizing established technologies.
 
In the last couple of months we have seen technology trends pouring in. It is now accepted that cloud computing, mobile broadband, social networks, big data, LTE, Smart Grids, and Internet of Things will be key players in the world of our future. We are now at a point in time when serious disruption is not just possible but seems extremely likely. The IT Market Research firm IDC in its Directions 2012 believes that we are in the cusp of a Third Platform that will dominate the IT landscape.
 
There are several technologies that have been appearing on the periphery and have only gleaned marginal interest, such as super Wi-Fi or Whitespaces, which uses unlicensed spectrum to access larger distances of up to 100 kms. Whitespaces has been trialed by a few companies in the last year. Similarly, Wimax’s deployment has been spotty and has not led to widespread adoption in comparison to its apparent competitor LTE.
 
In the light of the technology entrants, the disruption in the near future may occur because of a paradigm shift which I would like to refer as the “Neighborhood Area Computing (NAC)” paradigm. It appears that technology will veer towards neighborhood computing given the bandwidth congestion issues of WAN. A neighborhood area network (NAN) will supplant the WAN for networks which address a community in a smaller geographical area
 
This will lead to three main trends
 

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